That 5am thunderstorm was a whopper that rocked the motel on its foundations! It looked like another day of crap weather ahead, although Resourceful Pete, the mad dirt-biker from Cairns, said he'd checked the radar and the way south looked ok. His own route, back to Cairns, looked less pleasant - storms, storms and more storms. Erk.
After days of weather that felt a bit Old Testament - fires one day, floods the next - I was expecting locusts and plague any second - I wondered what the day would throw at me. So much of this ride has put me well outside my comfort zone. I didn't realise just HOW far outside my comfort zone I'd been till I was on the familiar road between Sydney and Canberra - but I'm getting ahead of myself.
My gloves and boots were still all squelchy from the previous day's deluge - eeeeew, it's nasty to put your feet into wet boots - but everything else had dried overnight, thank goodness. The road crews left early to lay their bitumen and I farewelled my dirt-rider friend and the sleepy little town of Guyra (although I doubt that anybody could still have been asleep after that 5am storm!) to head towards Sydney.
Thunderbolt's Way was interesting again - plenty of thick fog along the way. At first I wasn't sure if it was fog or bushfire smoke because there'd been quite a few fires burning out of control around there for several days. I could see patches of burnt earth all the way to the edge of the road at times, but there didn't appear to be anything alight (phew!)
In the day-to-day course of things, I don't speak to strange men as a general rule, but the rules change when you have a motorcycle - it's so weird! When I got to Gloucester for a wee stop and a leg stretch, I parked outside a pub and dragged a can of Red Bull out of my bag. Almost instantly, Peter, a Vietnam vet, came up and started chatting. We were soon joined by another slightly older fellow, John - both Triumph riders from way back who just wanted to talk about bikes. I love that stuff. We had a pleasant half hour just chatting.
Heading on down the road I met up with Pisshead for lunch at the twin servos near Wyong, and arrived in Sydney at around 3.30. My old neighbours made this weary traveller very welcome, and we stayed up as late as we could (given that it was a weeknight and most people (not me!) had to get to work the next morning!)
Oh, and what a glorious morning it was on Wednesday. It was the perfect weather that I really should've had for the whole trip! Not too hot - although it warmed up later - no rain/fire/flood/hail/fog - just a shitload of very ugly Sydney traffic for the first hour. How on earth do they stand it? I forget...
It was a lovely ride home. I re-entered the ACT on the dot of midday, and walked in my front door at about 12.20. Somebody had turned up the heat while I was away, but there was NO HUMIDITY! My washing dried in no time at all and I even got around to a bit of blogging.
A check of the bike showed me that the entire trip had taken me 2634kms (over 1600 miles). The company of family and friends was lovely, the people I met along the way were terrific and the "challenge" I'd been looking for ended up exceeding my expectations. Much of it was bloody hard work - harder than I'd thought it would be. (I'm trying soooo hard to resist the temptation to be all gloaty, and not succeeding very well. Oh, bugger it - I was proud of myself!) The airhawk seat was brilliant - after all those hours in the saddle, my bum wasn't even sore - and surprisingly, nor were my shoulders. My hands ached and the Helmet from Hell made my ear hurt, but apart from that I felt surprisingly good (just as well, coz the weather's too hot for soaking in a hot bath, ha ha!)
So - another adventure over, and Thursday will take me back to the Real World. Poop.